West Virginia State Museum Education

West Virginia's State Animal

State Symbols

The Black Bear

bear bear1

The black bear became the official State Animal in 1973 after the Department of Natural Resources conducted an opinion poll of students, teachers and sportsmen in 1954 - 1955. The poll also included ideas for the State Fish. Black bears are generally less than six feet long and stand two to three feet high at the shoulder. Adult males ordinarily weigh from 150 to 450 pounds, but some West Virginia records exceed 600 pounds. Adult females vary from 100 to 300 pounds, depending upon nutrition during their early years of rapid growth. Here in West Virginia, the blond and cinnamon color phases found in western states are absent. Our bears are uniformly black, with brown muzzles. About five percent to 10 percent have white markings on their brisket, varying from a few flecks to distinct V’s. (Rieffenberger, Joseph C. "Black Bear." e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia. 19 May 2016.)

Helpful Links

e-West Virginia Black Bear Information